NEWSFLASH: Sarah LaPolla is doing an Agent Pitch Contest starting tomorrow morning at 9amEST! It will be an paragraph pitch of no more than 4 sentences. Winner gets a special prize (revealed tomorrow :)
So get your pitches ready and come back tomorrow for more deets!
For now, here is a little about Sarah!
Hi Sarah, tell us about yourself and how you got into agenting?
I am an associate agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd. and have been with them since 2008. I started as the foreign rights assistant and a few months ago I started building my own list. Before getting my job at Curtis Brown, I received my MFA in creative nonfiction from The New School. I still vaguely consider myself a writer, but I always knew I wanted to be the one to make things happen for other writers, as opposed to getting my own work published. (Maybe, possibly, someday though…) While I was in grad school, I interned with Loretta Barrett Books and the Renee Zuckerbrot Agency, and I knew I wanted to continue down that career path. So here I am!
What is your biggest pet peeve when receiving submissions? Query fails vs query successes?
It bothers me when it is very clear the writer has done no research whatsoever before querying me. Another pet peeve is when authors compare their books, whether for better or worse, to other popular novels. I’ve been getting a lot of Twilight-meets-blank lately and then realize that the only thing remotely close to Twilight in the book is that a vampire shows up. I want writers to be able to describe their work without relying on anything else other than their own story.
As an agent, how do you plan on helping your clients promote their books?
I have my own blog, which I will use as a marketing tool when the time comes (promote books and events, hold contests, etc.) I’m also pretty active on Twitter. I would encourage my authors to do the same. Ultimately, I think the bulk of publicity still ends up falling on the publisher and the author, but the role of the agent is changing in that way. The outlets for effective marketing also change fairly often, so I plan to keep up with those trends as best I can.
What are you looking for and how can authors submit to you?
I love literary fiction, urban fantasy, magical realism, narrative nonfiction, and young adult fiction. I’m also always looking for engaging narrators and strong, complex characters. I should also point out that I am never, ever looking for picture books, romance novels, or general nonfiction books.
Authors can email me their query letters and the first five pages of their project, pasted into the body of the email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last question, if you could have a special power, what would it be and why?
Teleportation, easily. It would be so time-saving, and I’d go so many places! Plus, my commute to work would be pretty sweet.
If you have any questions for Sarah, feel free to leave them in the comments! Don't forget to come back tomorrow!